” The allegations made against the painter are baseless and it would not be proper to hold that he had a deliberate intention to manifestly insult Bharat Mata,” Justice Kaul said after reasoning that nudity is part of contemporary art.
Husain’s nude paintings of Bharat Mata, as well as those of other Hindu gods and goddesses had created a furore resulting in several threats from right wing groups like VHP and Bajrang Dal, following which he is living in self-imposed exile in Dubai.
“A painter at 90 deserves to be at his home – painting on his canvas,” the judge said quashing proceedings in three cases against Husain, and added that “it is most unfortunate that India’s new ‘puritanism’ is being carried out in the name of cultural purity and ignorant people vandalize art.”
In a brilliant show of justice, the obscenity charges against Maqbool Fida Husain have been formally dropped. I am delighted that the Judge in this outlandish case also responded to the charges and the recent right wing extremist acts with logic, echoing a lot of the things I myself have wondered as well. his speech is a triumph of dignity in support of artistic expression and freedom as well as acknowledging art history and India’s own specific artistic past.
I have covered the travails of MF Husain on this blog numerous times, not only as an example of extreme reactions to nude art but of how we are becoming more reserved and more tightly puritan. I still don’t understand the complexities of his controversies but I do understand that all of the protests in the world have only made him more famous, desirable and expensive.
Now that this case is ended, what is next for India’s Picasso? I have yet to see any backlash from the judgement though I am still expecting the other shoe to drop. Will he move back? will he continue to command the prices and respect he has earned?